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Natural Awakenings

Sounds for Snoozing

Jun 30, 2021 09:30AM ● By Ronica O’Hara
Person sleeping in bed with white bedding next to cell phone

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We might be too old for Rock-a-Bye Baby, but sounds can still lull us to sleep—and they’re right at our fingertips. By dimming the screens of our devices and donning earbuds, we can summon these soothing soundscapes.

Meditations designed to induce sleep are easy to access on a smartphone or tablet with apps like InsightTimer, Calm and Headspace. These include gently guided instructions for approaches like breathing, body scans, visualization, counting and slow movements. Once a meditation is learned, it’s easy enough to do without the app. For Italian neurologist and sleep expert Pietro Luca Ratti, this involves “just lying in bed with your eyes closed, focusing on a point in the wall and finding a calm place to take yourself. Think about the feeling of a deep sleep and will yourself into a happy, relaxing place.”

Music can be used to train the brain to sleep, with insomniacs sleeping increasingly better during three weeks of nightly, 45-minute listening sessions, Taiwan researchers found. A study in Musicae Scientiae reported that many genres (not just classical or New Age) work, and that sleep-inducing music typically has more emphasis in lower frequencies such as a stronger bass, a slow and sustained duration of musical notes and non-danceable, simple, subtle rhythms. Music apps like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music offer a wide array of sleep-inducing playlists.

Short stories and novels can be downloaded from meditation apps, and Amazon’s Audible offers more than 200,000 audiobooks. “The key is to find something that is interesting enough to focus on, but not too intense that it grabs your attention to want to stay up to keep listening,” says pharmacist and functional medicine consultant Meg Mill, of Indiana, Pennsylvania.


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